Project DescriptionText by Juan Lopez Vergara
In order to fully understand this house, located in a gated community in Zapopan, Jalisco, it is of paramount importance to recognize the twofold strategy inscribed at its core. On the one hand, as its name suggests, this house springs from the conviction to incorporate into its architectural scheme a magnificent old tree that preexisted on the building site. This tree will become the visual counterpoint to both the garden and its inhabitant’s social activities. On the other, an equally crucial aspect, which also contributed to determine the house´s character, is its distinctive emplacement.
Although, typically we tend to understand a project’s emplacement as a question concerning which part of a given site is chosen to build on, in this particular case, the decision had to do with a vertical rather than a horizontal concern. In this sense, a key to understanding the project is to notice that its ground floor is not on the street level, but one level above it. This solution provides two noticeable consequences: first, most of the noise that comes from cars is eliminated, and secondly and most relevant, instead of looking directly into the street, all the views from the house’s ground floor look towards the tree tops from the surroundings, in a way, erasing its urban context.
It is because of this that the house manages to distance itself from the outside and therefore looks inwards, into its wonderful garden. Thanks to its open scheme and carefully chosen windows, the ground floor, which consists of a clean succession of clear and harmonious spaces, opens up completely towards the main and secondary gardens, establishing an interesting and never ending dialogue between exterior beauty and inner clarity. This project achieves this in such a way that instead of having a house separate from the garden, it is possible to say that this house lives through the garden, as well as, that this garden participates in the life of the house.
Beyond the special relationship we find between outside and inside space, it is important to notice that the house’s interior scheme is very straight forward: the basement (on the street level) lodges the garage and utility rooms; the ground floor is dedicated entirely to social activities of its inhabitants; and the second floor accommodates its occupants private quarters. The apparent simplicity of the layout speaks of the well-established order underlying the project’s open spirit. Finally, this house reminds us of something we easily forget, that is, that the garden must be as important as the house, for as John Hejduk has written “the sister of a house is its garden”.